Political

Tribal… or local? Twitter followers stick to MPs of one party

Demos has an interesting looking report coming out tomorrow about the social media following of Britain’s three main political parties:

We examine the social media support of the main three parties, and consider the extent to which Facebook and Twitter affiliation might replace the formal party membership model. We’ve number-crunched ‘Followers’ and ‘Likes’, and the results might surprise you.

Part of the work involved looking at the ‘loyalty’ of Twitter followers toward the MPs they follow. We did this by calculating how many followers of, say, Conservative MPs, also followed MPs from a different party, and how many only follow MPs from one party (excluding the leaders of each party in order to get a more grassroots party sample).

Precise results will be available tomorrow, but as illustrated from the graphic, followers are on the whole quite loyal – with the overwhelming majority (between 60 and 70 per cent) of Labour and Conservative followers sticking to their party. Only a very small cluster, that central interlinked node in the middle, follow at least one MP from all three. The Liberal Democrats, however, are a more unfaithful (or perhaps curious) bunch – as over half of their followers are also following MPs from one of the other parties.

Demos graph

One interpretation of that is to view people as being tribal:

However, there’s an alternative – and it’s that people are local, not tribal. That is, people follow their local MP (whoever they may be, whichever party they are from) and that’s it.

I’ve asked Demos if they’ve got more data that reveals if indeed the bulk of the followers are following just one MP, which would corroborate this.

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